Filming a Satire

Introduction: Filming a Satire

The objective of this project is to give students a greater understanding of what satire is and how it works. This objective will be accomplished by having the students write and film a satirical news story in the vein of The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and The Onion News Network.

Products required:
Basic Video editing software
Video Cameras

This planned lesson for this project involved using it as a way to teach students about Huck Finn. However, this project could easily be used if you were planning to teach any other satirist and, with some mild adaptation, it could even be used for other areas entirely. Having a student write and perform on a subject should, hopefully, provide them with a deeper understanding of how that something works. This is the theory behind this project.

Planned for 11th-12th graders.

Step 1: Groups

Students meet in the groups of 3-5 assigned by the teacher.

(Teacher assignments necessary depending on who has access to video cameras. If the school can provide cameras, than other means of forming groups can be applied.

Step 2: News Articles

Each student in the group go through newspapers or search the internet for recent articles they might want to satirize. Each student should have their own article.

Their criteria for choosing an article is provided via a guide.

The Guide for choosing a news article:
Does the article detail recent events?
Does it display an act of government or business that seems disagreeable (ie. a new law banning something that you think shouldn't be banned, or a restaurant refusing to serve a certain condiment with their food)? Whatever it is, the idea should seem ridiculous to you.

Step 3: Paragraph

Each student writes a paragraph or longer about how they would satirize the article and why what they would do would be a satire. The student should adequately answer these two questions in a long paragraph, though no more than 1.5 pages long.

(This is a check for understanding)


Does the paragraph explain why the author thinks this article should be satirized?
Does the paragraph explain how the author would satirize the article?
Does it answer these questions thoroughly and completely?

Step 4: Groups Decide Which to Write and Film

Now that each student has an article, the groups meet back together and decide which one of their articles they will write the script and film. The determining factor in their decision making should be which would be the best or most effective satire, as outlined by the rubric.


Does the article present an act of politics or business that the group finds disagreeable?
Does the group see how they could show why they find it disagreeable with humor?
Would this potential satire be effective?

An article that answers in the affirmative for these three questions would be a good article to continue with.

Step 5: Script

The group now writes the script for what they will film. The end product should be 5-6 minutes long, so the script should show appropriate length. The students will be provided with a Screenwriting guide so they know the format of a script.

As far as characters go, the script must have, at least, an Anchor, a Reporter, and an Interviewee. If there are more than 3 people in the group, they can add A Co-Anchor, a Guest Expert, or a random character that would fit into their video.

Further, they students will also be provided with the rubric that the film will be graded on, which they can use as a content guide.

Step 6: Film

The students then film the script once it is written. Everyone in the group must have a part in the video. How the end product is graded is based on a rubric.

The students will have the option of using the classroom for filming, but they must sign up for times before school, after school, or during the teacher's free period.

Step 7: Present the Films

Lastly, the groups present their final product to the class.

A particularly polished example of what a video might look like:

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